By on February 22, 2009

Perusing the February 23rd issue of AutoBiWeek brought to mind Frank Sinatra’s final concert series. My thought at the time: can someone just shoot this guy? One of the greatest singers of all time couldn’t hit a note with a blunderbuss. In AutoBiWeek’s case, we can skip the paean to their heyday (for obvious reasons) and highlight WeatherTech’s two-page spread on the inside cover. It’s only a matter of time . . . . Meanwhile, Ford’s ponied-up to advertise their pony car. As Chrysler and GM embark on their “You Paid for It” farewell tour, one wonders if the ad for Ford’s greatest hit remix signals a dramatic return to form, or the end of the end.

“DEFIES TIME. AND MOST EVERYTHING ELSE.” You can almost hear the scree of marker on whiteboard, as the agency and marketing guys compete to see how many levels of meaning they can ascribe to a vague, mundane come-on.

Defies time! Eternal appeal! Defies time! Like the old bastards who still want to buy a Mustang. Defies time! Like the time it takes to accelerate from zero to sixty! Defies time! Like “Why is Ford still making this thing?”

Yes, there is that. The Mustang is still a two-plus-torture coupe; a toy at a time when nobody’s got a plug nickel for toys.

Don’t get me wrong: I adore the current-gen GT despite the fact that the interior’s made of recycled toothbrush handles and the on-the-limit handling makes me shout (at the appropriate moment) Live! From the rear axle! It’s the end of my life!

Never mind. The Mustang is as iconic as a coke bottle and the V8’s eargasmic. Only . . . you can hardly find a Coke bottle anymore and the GT is a niche within a niche.

To its credit, Ford knows the entry-level Mustang’s back is up against the wall. Hence the “AND MOST EVERYTHING ELSE” part of the headline.

You can almost feel the embattled resolve. The 2010 Mustang defies federal fleet-wide fuel economy regulations. Defies anodyne Toyondissan styling. Defies the end of Detroit. Defies the wife, who’s freaked that we might end up on the soup line (and BTW we’re $15K backwards on our current auto loan).

I’ve yet to drive the new base Mustang. But I doubt it will defy my expectations; I’m sure it’s vastly better than the model it replaces. The new EcoBoost (born TwinForce) V6 should provide some driving pleasure where, previously, there wasn’t any. And . . . that’s about it.

The Mustang’s exterior modifications are strictly forum fodder, the interior still looks so cheap it Hertz (even though it probably isn’t) and Ford refused to bite the Bullitt and put an independent rear axle out back. Oops! I guess someone forgot to defy the beancounters.

But the real problem with the new Mustang (the killer app in the literal sense) is the marketing.

“COMPLETELY CHANGED,” the body copy shouts, in its own small-font-size sort of way. “INSIDE AND OUT. BUT THE FEELING IN THE SAME AS EVER.” Translation: IT SUCKED BEFORE BUT WE CAN’T SAY THAT BUT ANYWAY YOU LOVE THE WHOLE MUSTANG THING, RIGHT?

The Mustang’s “Same as it Ever Was” magazine ad is just one example of The Blue Oval Boys’ po-faced approach to marketing. Appealing to muscle-minded Mustang motorists with a message of eternal life is all very well and good in a preaching-to-the-choir kinda way. But Ford needs to win new converts via a major “come to Crazy Henry” moment, saving souls with a charismatic product born of bad ass branding.

Yes, The Blue Oval Boys finally whittled down their four tag lines. They’ve gone from “Drive Smart, Drive Safe, Drive Green, Drive One” to “Drive One.” Which is, without doubt, the worst possible choice (out of four less-than-inspiring options). Drive One is bland, unimaginative, insipid and entirely forgettable.

Ford may be completely changed inside and out, but the feeling amongst consumers remains the same: meh. Or, to put it in a corporate context, the company’s branding sucks. No, it’s worse than that. Ford doesn’t have any branding.

And that’s a shame because Ford makes some terrific products. The Explorer is a tremendous vehicle allowed to die without a fight. The Freestyle—sorry, “Taurus X”—was another potential winner that flew so far under the radar it crashed into an anthill. The F-150 is one hell of a truck whose virtues have never been properly tied to other Ford products. The Fusion handles like a dream . . . that no one’s ever had.

Mark my words (Fields): Ford will die unless it distills and disseminates a coherent brand message. F. Scott Fitzgerald famously opined, “There are no second acts in American life.” Read in context the line means that most Americans skip directly from act one to act three. Ford had better get a move on, or, one way or another, it will be forced to leave the stage,

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

80 Comments on “Ford Death Watch 45: Drive One. Act Two?...”


  • avatar
    Lee

    Ford i think, should be taken off “Death Watch” status. To me, they have the best product portfolio, and the sanest man at the top of the big 3.

    Ford probably deserves a little more optimism than your article gives it, and i disagree regarding Ford’s public profile which i think is on the rise with Joe Public, particularly IMO due to them not requiring rescuing by the Govt.

    I do however agree with the basic premise though re Ford’s marketing. And it’s not just Ford USA. Back home, in Australia, the Falcon and the Commodore have fought against each other forever, and while the Falcon is widely considered to be a far superior car to the Commodore (G8), the Holden consistently out sells it, because Holden, and HSV know how to market their products. One could be excused for thinking that Ford doesn’t even have a marketing department at all.

  • avatar

    Lee:

    And that’s it? We should ignore the fact that they’re mortgaged up to their logo, burning cash like kindling? And what of branding? Do you think Ford brand has a strong brand?

    Being the healthiest terminally ill cancer patient is, in the larger scheme of things, entirely irrelevant. You know, if that’s what they are.

  • avatar
    carguy622

    Ford’s marketing has always stunk. I can’t recall a Ford ad that got my attention, or said something meaningful about the car. If they are not using the “love America” stars and stripes type ads, then it’s overly artsy “was that a car ad?” stuff.

    They need to get down to the nuts and bold, tell them “It’s a new line-up from the ground-up”, this is what make our new models competitive, and no details will be overlooked. Be clear, concise and to the point.

    I just hope that people have enough faith that they will not screw it up again? Have you driven a Ford… lately? You fooled us once!

  • avatar
    dwford

    You are right that Ford’s commercials suck. Think Flex – since that is all they seem to advertise. What horrible commercials. The SYNC intro commercials were dull. When was the last time you saw an ad for the Mustang, Focus, Escape, Explorer, Expedition, Edge. Did I miss any, I forget what Ford sells…

    Ford’s new commercials on American Idol aren’t bad, until the contestants start singing and dancing in those lame commercials as usual. I like the MKS commercials, which are thankfully free of the lease payment shilling you see on the rare MKX or MKZ commercial.

    Farley has tried to be aspirational with the Flex and MKS commercials, but the Flex fails completely and the MKS is just not the best car in its class.

    I have been hoping that Ford is just saving up its marketing firepower for the Fusion and Taurus launches later this year.

    Ford has a terrific lineup that nobody knows about.

    BTW: I signed up for updates on the Fiesta a full month ago and have yet to received so much as a thank you response…

  • avatar
    dwford

    carguy622:

    You forget the commercials that intro’d the last gen Mustang. The ones with the father and son doing burnouts in the parking lot. Those were cool.

    You are right about what Ford needs. A little Americana and a lot of “best in class.”

  • avatar
    P71_CrownVic

    Ford may be healthy, but that is like saying you ONLY have SARS, Bird Flu, Rabies and AIDS.

    Ford is only one sneeze away from failure.

    —–

    As for this article, it’s brilliant. There are so many problems with the Mustang…which really shows the problems at Ford.

    Just look at the base engine and trans. It has the terrible 4.0 (210HP) and a 5-speed. It’s completely unacceptable that this car didn’t launch with the 3.5 and a 6-speed. So much for CAFE…

    The Camaro will have as much power in base form as the Mustang GT…who at Ford thought that was a good idea?

    ———-

    Lincoln has no identity and is a joke in the legimateate luxury market. They are nothing more than trim levels of Fords.

    Mercury has about as much direction as a blind fish. Nothing about Mercury says “BUY ME!”

    And Ford is just a mess. Sure the Fusion gets good MPGs…but that is not enough to sway buyers into a $28K mid-sized Ford. There is no value for your money.

    The Fiesta will be the late one to the party…because Ford has incessantly dragged their feet getting it here…they were too busy slapping JC Whitney parts on an F-150…

    The Focus is a terrible joke. The whole rest of the world gets a fantastic car inside and out, while we are stuck with a car from 2000.

    The Flex should have never seen the light of day…Ford already had a competent, great looking, seven seat station wagon on the market, the Taurus X. But rather than spend just a few dollars on advertising it, they decided it would be far wiser to spend billions to develop their version of the Scion xB. And look how it hasn’t paid off.

    In fact, you have to look no farther than the failed “”many times over” D3 cars to prove how off track Ford really is.

    But hey, at least you can talk to your radio…

  • avatar

    dwford:

    Can you even DO a burnout in a V6 Mustang? And if they’re putting all their eggs in that retro muscle car thing, well, good luck with that. Secretaries are a far better bet. Seriously; if the new Mustang is to succeed in the marketplace, it must do so as a car, not a toy. The time for toys was five– or fifty– years ago.

  • avatar
    BuckD

    Ford’s branding and advertising do still suck, but I give them credit for winning the PR battle. Ford managed to avoid being linked with GM and Chrysler, whose names are now synonymous with “bailout.”

  • avatar
    ajla

    The Mustang’s “Same as it Ever Was” magazine ad is just one example of The Blue Oval Boy’s po-faced approach to marketing.

    I actually think marketing the Mustang this way is a good idea. Pony/Muscle car fans stopped liking automotive progress around 1974, and want their modern muscle/pony cars to remind them of the 1964-1971 “glory days” as much as possible.

    And yes you can do a peg-leg burnout in a V6 Mustang.

  • avatar
    KnightRT

    Once again, Ford proves that it doesn’t have a clue how to sell a car.
    Have you been to Ford’s website? The 360-degree interactive pan around the Mustang is the first innovative marketing trick I’ve seen in years. The car will sell itself. In fact, it’ll probably sell more than the Camaro, even though the latter is better at everything. For all the bitching about the current V6, it sounds marvelous and has plenty of stick in the bottom 2/3s of the tach.

    Put another way, the point is well-taken with the Taurus X (or god forbid, the same in Ford Five Hundred guise), but it doesn’t extend to the Mustang.

  • avatar
    carguy622

    BuckD

    I’m not so sure about that… any of my friends and family that I discuss cars with are all under the impression that Ford got a bailout as well. Even some blogs I follow about the housing crisis are constantly asking if Ford, GM, and Chrysler deserved the bailouts. Anyone who doesn’t follow the auto news thinks Ford got government money too.

    Unfortunately, they are guilty by association.

  • avatar
    qfrog

    I think Hyundai is about to bring the modern day pony car to market. I think they’ve got it figured out, at least on paper. Sure it might be a little bit pudgy but the fact that they want to offer a stripper model rear wheel drive coupe with 4 cyl turbo power, 4 wheel Brembo brakes and a limited slip diff means to me they want this car to be taken seriously and driven just as seriously if not abusively. Have you seen the specs on the track prepped models? This is IMO everything ford should have had in mind for the Mustang… and everything Chevy should have had in mind for the Camaro. Give the drifter kids a home team to root for, there are only so many decade old Japanese imports to wreck up mucking about in some interpretive driving style. The problem here is that Hyundai is the only one that gets it IMO.

    Anyways… I enjoyed this article… great for a Sunday night.

  • avatar
    MBella

    The thing with the Mustang, outdated live axle and all, is that it sells well for Ford. If Ford had a few more cars with sales like the Mustang they wouldn’t have issues. The Mustang was never a problem with Ford. It has its base of customers. Ford needs to sell better everyday cars, something that looks like they may do. If Ford fails, it will be by failure of the Fiesta, Focus, Fusion and Taurus, not the Mustang.

    Having said that, why on earth would Ford still put the live axle in a car. Independent rear suspension can’t be that expensive if a $18K Subaru Impreza can have it and Ford’s $30K sports car can’t. Ford may very well be forced to add IRS in the future, if the Camaro and Challenger take away to many sales.

  • avatar

    Ford’s excuse for reverting to a live rear axle for the new Mustang in ’03 after having had developed IRS for the previous gen Mustang was that live axles were more popular with drag racers. The excuse was pooh-poohed by folks who appreciate skid pad G forces more than ETs, but that may just be a class distinction. The fact is that Mustangs have always been popular with the drag strip crowd. Watch any of the Pinks shows on SpeedTV. You see plenty of Mustangs of various generations.

    As for their advertising, it’s sucked for years. The Fusion hasn’t gotten nearly the support it deserves.

  • avatar

    MBella :

    Agreed. The Mustang isn’t a huge problem for Ford. Per se. Especially as Big Al’s boys have probably rationalized production to make it better AND more profitable.

    But Ford’s inability to create an appealing brand under whose umbrella the Mustang could graze, or develop coherent, brand-related advertising to win NEW customers, will be the death of them.

    This is their weakness. Their Achilles heel.

  • avatar
    mtypex

    Mustangs are pretty popular in the Midwest … with other people. Love my Honda.

    Think Ford … Not Really.

  • avatar
    brush

    Let me think, a Ford product that
    1)must be a decent size (seats 4-5)
    2)rwd
    3)indpendant rear suspension
    4)decent mileage
    5)decent power

    and the answer is (1) Ford G6, (2) Ford G6, (3) Ford G6, (4) Ford G6 [23 mpg average] (5) Ford G6 [261 hp @ 6000rpm, 288 pd/ft @ 3250rpm]

    All that from a normally aspirated straight 6, never mind the turbo version. Starts @ US$24,327.00. Did somebody miss the boat when deciding product?

  • avatar
    KnightRT

    Having said that, why on earth would Ford still put the live axle in a car.
    Because the segment hasn’t demanded anything better, and because for a long time, the Camaro was just as bad. More practically, the live axle costs less to produce, takes torque more easily, and allows Ford to benefit from fifty years of accumulated knowledge.

    Unfortunately, the business case ends with this most recent Mustang. I’ve no doubt it’ll handle as well as the G8-based Camaro on the track, but in the real world, Chevy’s superior NVH over rougher roads will start to win converts. Japan’s similarly modern entries will push the final nail in the live axle coffin. The next Mustang must have IRS.

  • avatar
    ZoomZoom

    I see the new mustang and I see an only slightly nicer car than the Fiesta-like shoebox from the late 80’s.

    What ever happened to the Mustang Mach III concept car that appeared (all too briefly) in 2003? Now THAT would have been a logical progression for the Mustang.

    But that was six years ago. I agree with Robert that the time for toys has passed.

  • avatar
    blue adidas

    Honestly, the Mustang is not what’s wrong with Ford. It’s one of the few cars that Ford gets right. And the answer is not going to be here with TTAC and the thirty or so people that visit this site. The answer is going to be with the other cars in Ford’s portfolio. The Taurus, the Fusion, the Focus, the F150 and the Fiesta. If they can make money on these cars and trucks, they’ll be fine. Problem is, the F150 is the only vehicle that has ever made any money. Guess we gotta kill the unions!

  • avatar
    John Williams

    and the answer is (1) Ford G6, (2) Ford G6, (3) Ford G6, (4) Ford G6 [23 mpg average] (5) Ford G6 [261 hp @ 6000rpm, 288 pd/ft @ 3250rpm]

    Two problems.

    1) It has to meet AMERICAN emissions standards (and Ford is not keen on spending money to certify what will eventually end up being a boutique engine for one or two cars, at best).

    2) After seeing GM flop with two Australian imports, they’re not gonna follow in their footsteps with another one.

  • avatar
    f8

    Drive One is still better than Pontiac is Car.

    That said, there isn’t a single car in Ford’s lineup that makes sense over competition’s cars. Ford’s branding sucks because it’s hard to market uninspired products. They’re not even bad cars, they are just.. not interesting.

  • avatar
    JG

    Terrible, horrible car. I can hardly bear to fire it up every morning and drive to work. :( The live axle.. this thing is undriveable on the street! I’m always up against the limits of its poor power and shoddy brakes! Rowing the 5 speed gearbox is such a damn drag. You know, every single 2009?/2010?/2??? Camaro I’ve found myself lined up against at the lights, I get blown into the weeds.

    Nothing will ever crest the summit of my discouragement! Mustang fans are such flakes.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    The Focus is a terrible joke. The whole rest of the world gets a fantastic car inside and out, while we are stuck with a car from 2000.

    Ah, but why is that? Were we really going to pay $22-28k for the American equivalent of the Euro-Focus? I doubt it. If I’m not mistaken, the Volvo C30 is available for that duty….and ain’t selling too well.

    The current Focus was a marvel in 2000, and once it got its kinks out quite a great little driver (I remain dumbstruck by a co-worker’s 2000 with 180k on it – never a problem!). I miss the 4 door hatchback and wagon models. I rented a new one a few months back – it was competent enough, especially for the (discounted) price point it plays in.

    Nothing will ever crest the summit of my discouragement! Mustang fans are such flakes.

    Hilarious. I had a chance to see the ’10 at the Houston Auto Show. Much better looking in person. It’s simple – either people get/like Mustangs or they don’t. It’s okay if you don’t.

  • avatar
    shiney2

    Geeze – did a mustang run over your mother?

    While I tend to be a BMW & MB guy, a business partner of mine drag races a mustang and has 2 for the street. Over time I have come to like them enough that I’ve been seriously thinking of picking a 2010 GT up. They are honest fun drives, very comfortable cruisers, and almost indestructible on the street – partially thanks to the solid axle. They more fun to drive than many seemingly better and more refined cars and its cheap and easy to make them put out huge POWER.

  • avatar
    mikeolan

    The Mustang is its own brand…

    IMO, Ford’s branding right now is simply “We’re building good quality cars.” I think it’s working OK…. and right now, that seems to be what’s selling (see Hyundai.) They need to build it up a little bit (ala Bold Moves… which didn’t take off.)

    I think the fact Ford isn’t drawing too much attention to itself is working in their favor. These are tricky waters to navigate and Ford’s products need to speak ‘quality’ first.

    And the Mustang’s a hot car for people who go to college with fairly well off parents but only moderately spoiled kids. That demographic is still doing pretty well.

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    Can you even DO a burnout in a V6 Mustang? And if they’re putting all their eggs in that retro muscle car thing, well, good luck with that. Secretaries are a far better bet. Seriously; if the new Mustang is to succeed in the marketplace, it must do so as a car, not a toy. The time for toys was five– or fifty– years ago.

    Regretably, I don’t have time to read all the responses this morning. RF, I think the above is spot on. Ford is going after the mullet-head market, splitting it with some Chrysler products and soon the Camaro. There are not enough mullet-heads left to make this a winning plan.

    Getting the secretaries out of their Civics and into Mustangs would be great for Ford. Don’t see how they’re going to do it though.

    I don’t think the original Mustang was a toy. It was in fact, just a well styled Falcon. It was a sporty-ish car which could be had by ordinary people – like secretaries.

  • avatar
    Geo. Levecque

    My thing here in Canada is like everyone else on here is there advertising or lack of clear understanding, like most younger Canadians I grew up with Metric, yet when Ford advertises here they still use the same MPG crap that they have in the USA, a sore point as far as I am concerned, I wrote them and they promised to correct there Canadian advertising, so far I have not seen it.

    Re the Fiesta, be careful for what you wish,in the United Kingdom its known to be a “fireball” in any collision and death is always the result, buyer beware!

  • avatar
    dwford

    Ford builds the Mustang in the same manner as they to their trucks: targeted exactly at the target market, to hell with everyone else. The Mustang is built to be bog simple, so anyone with a wrench can tune it up in their garage. Same principle with the trucks. They are targeted exactly for the work market and hit the nail right on the head. The new Camaro may have more power and and IRS, but it is more expensive, and has to start its tuner market all over from scratch. The Mustang has 45 years of developed market and even with lower tech, will stay miles ahead of Camaro and Challenger. Besides, will Camaro and Challenger even be around in a few years?

  • avatar
    KatiePuckrik

    I still maintain that the Ford Deathwatch should be kept for 2 reasons:

    1. In this recession, they are not completely out of the woods yet. In fact, 6 months ago I would have put their survival chances at 50-50. Now I reckon it’s more 30-70 (in favour of bankruptcy).

    2. Even if Ford manage to avoid bankruptcy this time around, when Mr Mulally retires, he will have to hand the reins over to his successor and as far as I’m concerned, unless he hands it to an outsider (maybe Jim Farley), Ford will be in exactly the same situation 5 years from now. I wouldn’t trust any of the current management with the CEO’s job.

    The sad thing is, Ford have the potential to come out of this looking good. They have a good reliabilty, good products and a decent price range. If they could harass those qualities into a coherent brand, then, they might start to grow a good company image.

    I really, think they should concentrate less on comparing themselves to their Japanese brethren and let the public know what Ford can do for them. It worked for Toyota and Honda.

    What is also not helping is that they are faltering elsewhere in the world. Europe is stalling for them. The Focus is starting to get old, the Mondeo (much to my surprise) isn’t selling well (you can buy a top of the range Ford Mondeo and easily get a 25% discount on one) and the crossovers aren’t being picked up. The only growth they have are on small cars (i.e Ka and Fiesta), but the profit margins on them are small, very small.

    Not to mention that Ford is in debt to the tune of $156.79bn (let’s be generous and say 50% of that figure is finance to customers). This means that, if Ford manage to get into profitablity and started earning $3bn per quarter (extreme example) if they took all that profit and dumped it into paying off this debt. it’d take them 6 and a half years to pay off.

    Ford have potential, but they have to work very hard to realise it….

    N.B: For the record, I hate Ford and have sworn off Ford products. I’ll be selling my X-Type soon and buying a new car.

  • avatar
    PeteMoran

    Ford need Chrysler and GM to near-disappear to have any chance, Mustang or otherwise.

  • avatar
    BDB

    “That said, there isn’t a single car in Ford’s lineup that makes sense over competition’s cars. ”

    The Fusion does. It’s really underrated.

    I think they’re getting good (and free) press for not taking bailout money, too.

  • avatar
    NulloModo

    Working at a dealership that sells a fair number of mustangs, I know the ‘going after the mullet market’ comments are very far from the mark. While yes, some rednecks do happen to enjoy the Mustang, so do retirees looking to relive their youth, genuine young buyers looking for style and performance without a huge pricetag, families and couples looking for a fun weekend car, and convertible buyers who want more than a Sebring but don’t want to pay an arm and a leg for one of the euro imports. Since the convertible Camaro and Challenger are both on indefinite hold, the fact that the 2010 Mustang will debut with a ragtop is a huge plus in its favor.

    I do agree Ford could use some new ads, but not all of them are bad. The ‘Drive One’ slogan fits well into the ‘We Build Quality Cars’ mantra, as we are getting lots of customers who are looking at an American car for the first time after years of Japanese imports who are honestly surprised about how good cars like the Fusion, Edge, and Escape are.

    Speaking of which, if we expand car to include ‘car based crossover’ not only does the Fusion/Milan offer class competitiveness (sportier to drive than a Camry, great reliability ratings, innovative features like Sync, and a nicer interior than the CamCord in SEL or Milan trim), but so does the Edge (just as nice a drive and to look at as any other five seat mid-size crossover out there), the Flex (and the automotive press agrees, find a better seven seat station-wagony thing for the money), and the Escape (great fuel economy, powerful 4 and 6 cylinders, good space and handling, etc).

  • avatar
    BDB

    It is funny that Ford, the only one of the D3 that never killed their pony car or big-assed RWD American sedan (the Panthers) is doing the best.

  • avatar
    Morea

    Forgive my ignorance but would it be so hard for Mustangs to come from the factory with IRS but be engineered so that a solid rear axle would swap right in? Then everyone would be happy. The solid rear axle could come from a previous generation Mustang (plenty of those around) or be a performance part available from Ford. Seems as most semi-serious drag racers already change the rear differential to handle more power. Is it asking too much to change the rear suspension while you’re at it? What am I missing here? Are the chassis hard points too complex to design a system that will take two different suspensions?

  • avatar
    cleek

    Ford is in the unfortunate position of having to car pool to work with a strapped up suicide bomber (Chrysler), a grenade juggler who keeps dropping a pin (GM) and the UAW smoking a cigarette with a jerrycan of gasoline in their lap.

    We can praise Mr. Mulally ‘s driving, but mortality is a relative term. The Death Watch is a go.

  • avatar
    NickR

    Having said that, why on earth would Ford still put the live axle in a car.

    It is lighter than an IRS. It is probably also less expensive. It is superior for drag race style launches. The vast majority of drivers will never know the difference.

    WRT Ford’s advertising…yes, it seems strangely absent for most of their vehicles. I’ve seen a lot of Flex and F150 ads, but that’s about it. I guess they have to economize but still…

    I think the Mustang strikes a reasonable middle ground between appealing to sexataries and muscle car fans. Any more masculine and it would scare the former away, and any softer and it would turn off the latter group. It could be a bit sleeker maybe…

    Hopefully the new interior is better. I am also interested to see what Ford does to replace the 4.6/5.4. It’s still servicable, but it’s getting a little long in the tooth.

  • avatar
    63CorvairSpyder

    …..”DEFY TIME. AND MOST EVERYTHING ELSE”…….That’s what the 60 year old geezers attempt to do at the local gentlemen’s club when they get lap dances from the 20 year old Russian hotties.

  • avatar
    Orian

    I’ve always liked the Mustang, but not enough to buy one – they’re certainly priced well for the performance you get out of them, but they just feel cheap. Maybe that’s the point?

    I know with the last generation they kept the interior the same the entire run – which was way too long. I don’t really care much for the interior of the new Mustang either – I love the retro look on the outside, but I want something more modern inside which is what I would be subjected to while driving. Same with the Camaro – it is hideous inside but I love the exterior.

    After seeing the Hyundai Genesis coupe I’d be more interested in that with it’s turbo-4 and IRS and more modern interior than a Mustang or Camaro irregardless if the Chevy or Ford are faster. I think that is where Ford (and Chevy) are making a mistake – they have a new competitor in their price range soon that will take some of the younger (and older) potential buyers away. Most of the Mustang crowd as stated above are old Mustang fans. You’re not doing yourself a whole lot of good continually pushing the same product to the same people.

  • avatar
    P71_CrownVic

    Ah, but why is that? Were we really going to pay $22-28k for the American equivalent of the Euro-Focus? I doubt it. If I’m not mistaken, the Volvo C30 is available for that duty….and ain’t selling too well.

    See, you can’t do that. You can’t just take what the Europeans pay and convert it. If Ford did that, then we would be paying 18K for the stupid Fiesta.

    And Mazda can do it…as the Mazda3 is based on the Euro Focus platform…

    The Fusion does. It’s really underrated.

    Not at $28K for the Hybrid and $32K for a Sport. This is a mid-sized Ford…not a mid-sized Caddy.

    Ford’s have become way too overpriced, and that is another one of their problems. Jimbo from Toyota said that Ford would be selling 100K Flex’ a year, but due to the fact that they are overpriced, nobody is buying them., The Taurus and Fusion will be the same way.

  • avatar
    GS650G

    I would by F stock right now, for when they announce the end of Cry-sler that stock will go high pretty quick.

  • avatar
    carguy

    I disagree – conservative R&D spending for the ’10 Mustang was a good business move by Ford in the current economic climate. Pony cars simply don’t sell well in a downturn and this will keep the product profitable. Sure the gear head inside all of us would like IRS, but IRS will not save you when you have massive R&D costs to recover during a market slump (just ask GM about the Camaro).

    Spending the R&D cash on the new Fiesta, Focus, Fusion and Taurus will leave Ford in a much more competitive position than catering to muscle car aficionados.

  • avatar
    HEATHROI

    IRS, who needs IRS in the Mustang. I think it was Phil R. who informed us the why to set up the car was very stiffly at the front and very soft at the back and with a lighter steering rack you would have a neat handling car.

    and the answer is (1) Ford G6, (2) Ford G6, (3) Ford G6, (4) Ford G6 [23 mpg average] (5) Ford G6 [261 hp @ 6000rpm, 288 pd/ft @ 3250rpm]

    Two problems.

    actually 3 (if its the straight 6 falcon motor you’re referring to) Ford Australia are dropping that and going to the V6

  • avatar
    Dragophire

    Funny thing is I am trying to think of a two door coup that Toyota is making right now and I cant come up with it. Honda is getting rid of its s2000. Cant really remember a memorable commercial for Yota or Honda either. Oh yeah those dumb ass Tundra commercials. They are selling well now arent they. Oh yeah and all cross overs are overpriced so I dont understand how anyone can say all Fords are. I dont own a Ford but I see this thread as being ridiculous. Maybe a Ford did hit his mom.

  • avatar
    Richard Chen

    @Dragonphire: just the Lexuses: SC430 and upcoming IS convertible; there are some 3 door hatches in the lineup.

  • avatar
    P71_CrownVic

    Oh yeah those dumb ass Tundra commercials

    You mean the ones that FORD copied?

    I remember some stupid commercial where a Ford was being swung by it’s tow hooks…because that happens everyday.

    At least the Toyota commercials made sense. They actually showed scenarios that are true to life. Emergency stopping, the need for acceleration, the fantastic drivetrain etc.

    And for the record…I do not like the Tundra…

  • avatar
    BDB

    “Not at $28K for the Hybrid and $32K for a Sport. This is a mid-sized Ford…not a mid-sized Caddy.”

    Like there aren’t Accords and Camrys in this price range?

    Hell, a loaded Accord coupe gets pretty damn close to BMW 128i territory!

  • avatar
    P71_CrownVic

    Like there aren’t Accords and Camrys in this price range?

    Oh there is…but they have the brand perception to charge that. Ford clearly does not.

    You can’t charge the same amount for Dynex 32″ LCD tv as you do a Samsung.

  • avatar
    BDB

    “Oh there is…but they have the brand perception to charge that. Ford clearly does not.”

    But at the same time, if you charge less for something, people will think it is of inferior quality even when it isn’t. Ask the Koreans. Or incentive happy GM for that matter.

    That’s where marketing comes in. Something they haven’t done well with the Fusion, I’ll give you that.

  • avatar

    I don’t think the original Mustang was a toy. It was in fact, just a well styled Falcon. It was a sporty-ish car which could be had by ordinary people – like secretaries.

    The Mustang’s original ad campaign back in 1964 was heavily focused at exactly those secretaries, young women single and married, and young families. The campaign targeted young women and it was the 6 cyl. model that was expected to be the big seller.

    This 1964 ad from before the Mustang’s introduction talks about a “new breed of Americans who want stick shift action and room for four, who collect sports car badges and trading stamps.” There are only women pictured in the ad. Other 1964 Mustang ads on YouTube mention room for a family of four, the long list of interior and drivetrain options. The word “elegant” pops up frequently. Most of the early Mustang advertising stressed the wide option list and opportunity to spec the car exactly the way you want. The availability of V8s has as much to do with that as selling performance cars to young males. None of the 1964 ads that I can find stress performance (though of course it’s mentioned). The hi-po advertising didn’t really start until the 1965 models.

    In this print ad, convenience and luxury options are featured before performance options.

    Here’s another print ad that’s fairly feminine in its appeal.

    Here’s an ad titled “Six and the Single Girl”

  • avatar
    Dawnrazor

    To BDB and P71_CrownVic: You have just described the exact stalemate that is at the crux of Ford’s problems.

    Ford is damned if they do and damned if they don’t. By all accounts, the Fusion does compete well with the similarly-priced Accord and Camry on most fronts. The problem is years and years of inferior products and artificial devaluation of their entire line with the never-ending promotional “discounts” and dealers that constantly run “push, pull, or drag your trade”, “government auction sell-offs”, and “program cars” – all of this stuff just has the effect of cheapening their image, and scares off customers because they see these ridiculous promotions and assume they are going to be “ripped off”. They apparently HAVE taken steps to legitimately compete in terms of the quality of their products, but are stuck with the public’s prevailing attitude that the cars are “cheap”.

    The end result is they price the cars appropriately to make a profit, and no one buys because there is “no way” a Ford could be “as good” as an equivalent Honda/Toyota, so they refuse to take a look (or just wait for one of the many inevitable promotions, which further exacerbates the situation). On the other hand, if they set an artificially low price, they will lose money on each sale and will drag down resale values, neither of which is good.

    I don’t see how they can ultimately overcome this. If there were to be a solution I imagine it would come from the marketing perspective, and we all know how effective Ford has been in this regard!

  • avatar
    P71_CrownVic

    But at the same time, if you charge less for something, people will think it is of inferior quality even when it isn’t. Ask the Koreans.

    I did…and they told me that Hyundai and Kia were the ONLY brands to make gains over January 2008. (Subaru was up as well…but they are not Korean)

    http://www.autoblog.com/2009/02/03/by-the-numbers-january-2009-not-so-happy-new-year-edition/

    Ford was down 40%

  • avatar
    BDB

    Yes, the solution is in a good ad/marketing campaign. That’s what is missing from Ford.

  • avatar
    P71_CrownVic

    Ford is damned if they do and damned if they don’t. By all accounts, the Fusion does compete well with the similarly-priced Accord and Camry on most fronts.

    Then something must have changed because the last Fusion had a horrid interior with extremely cheap materials…it would pop and creek just from the car warming up. The 4-cylinder was a coarse, unrefined engine, and the 3.0 was a gas hog. In no way did the past Fusion compete with the Accord, Camry, Sonata, etc.

    It was a cheap car inside and out.

  • avatar
    shiney2

    cleek – Great carpool analogy!!

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    Can you even DO a burnout in a V6 Mustang? And if they’re putting all their eggs in that retro muscle car thing, well, good luck with that. Secretaries are a far better bet. Seriously; if the new Mustang is to succeed in the marketplace, it must do so as a car, not a toy. The time for toys was five– or fifty– years ago.

    Been thinking about this all day while at work. Not only are you right RF, but you were right a couple days ago about the Vette. No chance of making the Vette appealing to secretaries (or affordable) so it should be put on hold.

    Back to Mustang, wasn’t it about the time of the appearance of the Mach 1 when secretaries quit buying Mustangs? Didn’t they come back to it when Ford came up with the Mustang II? Is it time for Mustang II Redux? Ford needs something small that several million people will buy.

  • avatar
    fincar1

    “Back to Mustang, wasn’t it about the time of the appearance of the Mach 1 when secretaries quit buying Mustangs?” A lot of people quit buying Mustangs around then. I’m 6 feet 2, and found that the beltline was too high for me to put my arm out the window. I sat way down in the thing, and if it had a black interior like a lot of them did, it was a black hole. And of course they were quite a bit bigger and heaver than the original Mustangs.

    I liked my 67 383 Barracuda a lot better even though it had the weight distribution of a blackjack.

  • avatar
    geeber

    All of the original ponycars experienced dramatic sales declines around 1970-71 as they grew in size and emphasized the high-performance versions.

    Interestingly, it was about that time that the original Capri (sold through Lincoln Mercury dealers) and the Toyota Celica debuted and sold very well. They appealed to many people who, 5-6 years earlier, would have bought a Mustang with the six or a mild-mannered V-8.

  • avatar
    Geotpf

    brush :
    February 23rd, 2009 at 12:08 am

    Let me think, a Ford product that
    1)must be a decent size (seats 4-5)
    2)rwd
    3)indpendant rear suspension
    4)decent mileage
    5)decent power

    and the answer is (1) Ford G6, (2) Ford G6, (3) Ford G6, (4) Ford G6 [23 mpg average] (5) Ford G6 [261 hp @ 6000rpm, 288 pd/ft @ 3250rpm]

    All that from a normally aspirated straight 6, never mind the turbo version. Starts @ US$24,327.00. Did somebody miss the boat when deciding product?

    The only G6 us Yanks get is the one with an arrowhead at the front.

  • avatar
    mach1

    The current and previous generation Mustangs have captured the image of the 1969 Mach1 ‘stang. The current model is a sensible update and has a lot of appeal to young males who want an image car at an affordable price.

    I think RF is so wrapped up in his wickedly accurate observations of GM that he fails to recognize that Ford is not the same as GM. Ford is not without problems, but they have been working on theirs for several years while GM was still in denial. Wall Street values F at 4 times the value of GM.

  • avatar
    Double Z

    To the complaints of SRA and the lack of power, those problems will be solved.

    Next year the new 5.0L V8 will debut, and a new V6.

    I’m not sure if its this year or next an IRS will be on option.

    And with all of this improvement, it will still be cheaper than its competition.

    And sorry for being new to the site but,

    “Ford Death Watch” Hahahahahahahahahaha.

  • avatar
    NulloModo

    Then something must have changed because the last Fusion had a horrid interior with extremely cheap materials…it would pop and creek just from the car warming up. The 4-cylinder was a coarse, unrefined engine, and the 3.0 was a gas hog. In no way did the past Fusion compete with the Accord, Camry, Sonata, etc.

    Actually, the last (current, seeing as the 2010s aren’t really on dealer lots yet) Fusion has an interior just as nice as any Camry or Accord (there is plenty of hard plastic in both of the Japanese cars, the Fusion actually has more soft touch material) which is also very stiff, and I don’t know where you are hearing these creaks and squeaks, but they aren’t coming from the car.

    I will give you that the 4 cylinder isn’t the most refined engine, but the v6 at 18/26 is right in line with the other two at 18/28 and 19/29. Yes, a little less, and a little less power, but considering the 265hp MKZ gets 18/28 the new engines coming will solve both problems.

  • avatar
    BDB

    “Actually, the last (current, seeing as the 2010s aren’t really on dealer lots yet) Fusion has an interior just as nice as any Camry or Accord (there is plenty of hard plastic in both of the Japanese cars, the Fusion actually has more soft touch material) which is also very stiff, and I don’t know where you are hearing these creaks and squeaks, but they aren’t coming from the car.”

    This. Even the stripped rental Fusions I’ve driven have interior materials on par with Accord and Camry.

    “”Let me think, a Ford product that
    1)must be a decent size (seats 4-5)
    2)rwd
    3)indpendant rear suspension
    4)decent mileage
    5)decent power”

    Well, 4/5 for the Crown Vic a’int bad!

  • avatar
    P71_CrownVic

    Actually, the last (current, seeing as the 2010s aren’t really on dealer lots yet) Fusion has an interior just as nice as any Camry or Accord (there is plenty of hard plastic in both of the Japanese cars, the Fusion actually has more soft touch material) which is also very stiff, and I don’t know where you are hearing these creaks and squeaks, but they aren’t coming from the car.

    Sorry but this:

    http://photo.netcarshow.com/Honda-Accord_EX-L_V6_Sedan_2008_photo_30.jpg

    is vastly superior to this:

    http://photo.netcarshow.com/Ford-Fusion_2006_photo_2d.jpg

  • avatar
    NulloModo

    When you compare a base S trim or even an SE trim Fusion to a top of the line Accord, sure, but how about this:

    http://www.blog.automotiveaddicts.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/10/2009fordfusionseldashboard01fixedsmall.jpg

  • avatar
    P71_CrownVic

    Yep…looks the same to me…cheap and terrible.

    Does Ford really think that they can just make some plastic shiny, slap a brick nav screen in the center and call it ‘high end’?

  • avatar
    King Bojack

    Can all the people who bitch about the Mustang NOT having IRS out back show me all the performance cars that have outsold the Mustang over the years that DO have IRS?

    Then when you’re done with that look at how well Mustangs do in generally any race conditions even against cars with “superior” set ups.

    When you’re done with that as well look at how Ford tried IRS in some recent Cobras that didn’t sell well and most owners ripped their IRS out.

    Then consider how much simpler and stronger the LRA is and how all Ford should really do is offer LSD standard and quit bitching about it.

  • avatar
    P71_CrownVic

    Then consider how much simpler and stronger the LRA is and how all Ford should really do is offer LSD standard and quit bitching about it.

    I suppose that is why the SUVs have LRA…or why the Mustang has a solid front axle…oh wait.

    This shows how backwards Ford is. They offer IRS on their big, lumbering, slow, piggish SUVs…but offer a ox cart suspension on their “sports” car.

    Most cars have 4 tires…so here is a novel idea…why not treat them, you know, independently?

  • avatar
    brush

    The point about the Ford G6 is that the parts already exist in the Ford empire. You want IRS for a sedan in the same size as the Fusion and Taurus? Take a look and a re-engineer of the G6 rear end, which I belive was a re-engineer of euro ford “blade” suspension. I can understand that the engine wont make it (I thought we met Euro IV specs or is that just diesels?) the platform size, smallest to largest and it is only a matter of inches or centimetres (Mazda 6, Fusion, G6, Taurus) so the engineering talent is available in the empire, just that the NIH (not invented here) syndrome must be rampant in the halls of power. A tale of lost oppourtunities.

    In regards to the sales failures of aussie imports, that’s down to product/marketing managers doing a bad job. Monaro as a GTO sorry, should have been a Chevy from the start, same as the Commodore as a Pontiac. Remember the Mercury Capri? A “sports” car being sold by a dealer chain that the target demographic was the nearly dead! It also brings up an interesting point about badge engineering. Would the Mercury Capri sold better as a Ford Capri, the commodore twins better as Chevy’s than Pontiac/Buick. Does the Badge really mean that much more? We tried the same over here Toyota Camry/Holden Apollo Ford Ute/Nissan Ute, Ford Holden Commodores/Toyota Lexan, Mazda 323/Ford Laser. In all but one example the clone car sold miserably when essentially the only difference was plastic badges and the dealer you went to. The exception was the Ford Laser, creamed the Mazda 323! No great attachment to the badge, only Ford/Holden loyalties involved.

  • avatar
    King Bojack

    To P71 Crown Vic

    How about because it offers little real gain to the millions who have bought Mustangs? They should go out of their way to provide an IRS for the 30 or 40 car snobs that wouldn’t probably wouldn’t buy the Mustang for a dollar anyways? IRS fanatics didn’t show up in droves to buy the Cobras that had them.

    Since SUVs primarily sold to soccer moms and other similar jack offs they needed to do whatever it took to make the car drive and ride real easy. In many aspects the SUV would benefit from a near indestructable LRA but some whore taking her kid to band camp wouldn’t buy it because it “rode too rough”.

    This is a case of people just looking for a reason to complain about the Mustang, in reality the reasons one could complain about the Mustang are quite few and not related to lack of IRS. Most people who bitch about the Mustang don’t actually get what the car is about and generally ignore the relative decades long sales success it has been. Expect the Mustang to win in the sales race once again.

  • avatar
    unleashed

    And Mazda can do it…as the Mazda3 is based on the Euro Focus platform

    Correct.
    In addition, the Mazda3 is being assembled in Japan and then shipped here and still being competitively priced in its class.
    The claim that the Euro/World Focus platform is so expensive to build, FoMoCo had no choice but to keep the 1999 underpinnings just to stay competitive is based on myths and baseless assumptions.
    Also consider that Ford has spend so much money “redesigning” the American Focus, by many estimates it would actually be cheaper to adapt the European Model.

  • avatar
    rpm1200

    You can still get Coke in glass bottles; they sell them in cases at BJ’s Wholesale Club. I just had one on Sunday.

  • avatar

    rpm1200 :

    Who knew? Text amended. Thanks for keeping us honest.

  • avatar
    P71_CrownVic

    IRS fanatics didn’t show up in droves to buy the Cobras that had them.

    Yeah…because a $40K Mustang is the SAME thing as a $20K, V6 convert.

  • avatar
    umterp85

    Robert—it’s hard to argue with your rant against Ford branding/overall marketing. I have been quite disappointed in Farley’s efforts to date. That said—I really cannot think of another mainstream auto manufacturer that is setting the marketing world on fire right now either. It’s seems to be all about price now—not many good product based marketing efforts.

    My only nit is using the Mustang as your example. The Mustang is something Ford hasn’t f-d up. The Taurus F -up would have been a much better example—or the lack of good marketing against the Fusion. I know that would not have generated as many clickthroughs as a Mustang discussion…but just sayin.

    Also—I continue to question those that bash the current gen Mustang V6.

    Granted the engine is not state of the art—-but as a daily driver (most Mustangs are used this way)—210 horses + 240 lbs of torque (all available under 3800 RPM) mated to a 5 speed are more than adequate to have some fun. Also–my kids aged 6 and 9 fit fine in the back seat with no complaints. I will not “torture” my kids for the sake of fun! NOTE: If you want to improve your Mustang—there are thousands of ways to improve/customize aftermarket. Don’t complain–take action and have some fun with it !

    Last—P71_CrownVic—your continued rant against anything / everything Ford continues to entertain—keep bringin it !

  • avatar
    King Bojack

    @ P71

    Ford keeps the Mustang laughably cheap because they AREN’T putting turbo fours with IRS and other crazy shit in it. Base price of about 20k minus any factory or dealer incentives and you’ll be able to pick one up for several thousand less than any other competitor. Adding IRS to the mix would likely make it too expensive for Ford to keep their cheapskate pricing.

    @Umpterp

    People bitch about the base 6 because it’s old and compared to newer v6’s is underpowered. Ford should put a better 6 in it. The 3 liter duratec would be a perfect choice now and they might be able to squeeze better mileage out of it too. That being said, with Mustang’s increasing weight advantage the old 4.0 isn’t as bad as people say it is. Now that even Civics are getting heavy as balls it should be able to hang with anything else similarly priced regardless of what the haters say.

  • avatar
    Daniel J. Stern

    @RF, re Ford as the healthiest terminal cancer patient: Genau! I hit the CIAS last week. Ford’s large display had somewhat less of the reek of death about it than did Chrysler’s, which resembled a parking lot moderately full of forlorn, mediocre vehicles utterly without innovation, bedazzled with desperate appeals (“Starting at $20,000!”, “Over 30 mpg*!”) — except for a Dodge Challenger festooned with decals and paste-ons to appeal to Dukes of Hazzard fans, foggyheaded nostalgics who don’t clearly remember the history of how dumb the original ’70-’74 Challenger was and so are gullible enough to repeat it, and 8th-graders flunking everything except Smoking Area. The theme of GM’s getup could easily have been “Denial”, which is actually an anagram of GMC’s top “Denali” trim level, and it could’ve been designed by Alfred E. Neuman: “What…me, worry?”. Pay no heed to those waterfall sounds you don’t hear up ahead, just go back to sleep and keep driftin’ along downstream as usual. Dream of multibillion-dollar bailouts.

    But back to Ford: It’s kind of a shame we didn’t see this level of scrappy effort — you decide if that phrase rings sharp or flat — from Ford ten years ago when they were foisting Clown Victorias and Tauruses and Escorts on everybody too star-and-stripey-eyed to buy a real car.

    @umterp85: If you don’t already know what means “growth spurt”, you will soon. Okeh, so your 6- and 9-year-old kids fit in the back of your Mustang. Grand. Now, how well d’you suppose your 11- and 14-year-old will fit?

    @mach1: As I type this, Wall St. values Ford at $2.00 and GM at $2.22. That doesn’t look like Ford is worth 4x GM to me, how ’bout you?

    @Double Z: I wonder if Ford’s new 5.0 will be measured in pretend litres like their last (4942cc, 4.9 L) “5.0”.

  • avatar
    Greg Locock

    Daniel J. Stern wrote, and I bet he hadn’t

    “Wall St. values Ford at $2.00 and GM at $2.22. That doesn’t look like Ford is worth 4x GM to me, how ’bout you?”

    Well, the market cap of GM is 1.36B, and F is 4.78 B, as you have forgotten to account for the number of shares issued. OK, that is not a factor of 4, quite, but is not far off.

    If you want to play high finance, do the math.

  • avatar
    umterp85

    Daniel Stern: “If you don’t already know what means “growth spurt”, you will soon. Okeh, so your 6- and 9-year-old kids fit in the back of your Mustang. Grand. Now, how well d’you suppose your 11- and 14-year-old will fit?”

    No problemo—by ages 11 and 14—-one of them will be able to use the front seat—one the back. Look—the Mustang is not a family truckster. But in a pinch—when I have to take the kids to school or another event when the family truckser is not available..it works out fine as a back-up. Hell—I even take it to lunch with work colleagues—-especially female ones as I like to see them contort themselves into and out of the back seat :)

  • avatar
    NickR

    Just wondering aloud…would the Mustang gain ground if they made a handsome notchback out of it? Remember, it was originally launched as one (and a convertible); the fastback came later. And for most of it’s most prosperous years it has that body style available. So, notchbacks for sexataries and some guys that don’t want to appear to be trying to recapture their youth…and the fastback for the rest.

    Thoughts anyone?

Read all comments

Recent Comments

  • EBFlex: Flash in the pan when all the virtue signaling libs buy them but then it will taper off. The range of this...
  • EBFlex: For sure! And then they can just leave it on site because they don’t have enough electricity to get...
  • EBFlex: He and the vast majority of reasonable and responsible people.
  • EBFlex: “No worries with Biden saying he has no policy for oil prices to come down after he caused it to go up...
  • EBFlex: “You are talking about America, which is of course, gong to be a decade or so behind advanced...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Corey Lewis
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber